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'There are a few things in my football career that I am not over' - Tyrone 2021 hope after past pain

Feargal Logan gets the chance on Saturday to achieve All-Ireland glory as a manager.

Feargal Logan celebrates with Cathal McShane after Tyrone's win over Kerry.
Feargal Logan celebrates with Cathal McShane after Tyrone's win over Kerry.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JUST AS THE recent Tyrone press night was winding to a close and joint-manager Feargal Logan was answering the last question, a quick query was lodged at the 11th hour.

“Will you be taking much time off work yourself, Feargal?”

“I will see what happens,” he replied. “Generally I have a very busy working life.”

Scan across the numerous county managers in either code and have a quick think about their occupations. A few salesmen. Bank officials. Businessmen.

Teachers. Tonnes of them. We’re coming down with teachers.

Neither Logan, nor his managerial partner Brian Dooher – Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer for the Department of Agriculture – have the luxury of summers off or the option of dashing straight out of a classroom at 3.30pm.

As a partner in his legal practice Logan and Corry, with premises in Omagh and Coalisland, Logan’s working week bears consideration. Theirs is a ‘country’ practice, not a corporate city firm. As a result they have to offer every service going.

That can be dealing with elderly and the sick in drawing up their Wills. It could be the farmer having a dispute with his neighbour over half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land.

It means 3am weekend call outs to Police Stations where public disorder cases need legal representation. It’s families disintegrating and needing to formalise domestic arrangements. It’s murder charges and footery insurance claims when someone opens a car door into the one parked alongside it.

It’s affecting the false deference that pleases High Court Judges and relating to those trapped in cycles of unemployment and poverty, disaffected with the world around them.

On these weeks, the temptation to ‘God-Up’ the protagonists in an All-Ireland final is exquisite. We see them as untouchables, wrestling with the higher callings of match-ups and kickout strategies, motivational tools and tactical substitutions.

Logan’s occupation gifts him perspective.

“Management is overstated,” he states.

When asked why they took the job as a joint venture, he explains, “You are as good as your players but you are also as good as the collective.

“Peter, Brian and myself managed the Under-21s. I mean it sincerely when I say it didn’t cost me one iota of thought, really. Because as a team and a panel, you rise together and you fall together. So it doesn’t really matter.

“If Mickey Moynagh (long serving kitman) comes up with the best substitution, and I mean that with the greatest of respect, the longest and best servant of Tyrone football – if Mickey comes up with the winning formula, I am as happy as anybody.”

Could you imagine many other self-styled gurus of management coming out with a line like that? The honesty of it? The generosity of the hat-tip to a Mickey Moynagh?

Logan has always been an intriguing story in recent GAA history due to his involvement in several high-profile appeals against disciplinary bodies. In every single case he was involved or offered advice, he never charged for time or expertise.

And yet despite being open and courteous to media, he remains an enigma. An unknown.

Where has, for example, the man who managed the All-Ireland Under-21 winning team been?

And the truth is that there were offers. He could have toured the circuit. Big clubs around Ulster came knocking on his door. But he had no interest.

Since retiring from playing, he took up management with his club Stewartstown.

Standing on the sideline though was too much and he had the Puma Kings on in short order, reinventing himself as a goal-scoring full-forward as they won Tyrone and Ulster Junior Championships.

They fetched up in an All-Ireland final against Kerry’s Finuge in Portlaoise the following March. Things were going grand up to half-time when they were just 0-6 to 0-4 behind. Then Paul Galvin and Eamonn Fitzmaurice started asserting themselves, Finuge scored four unanswered points and Logan took himself off the bench.

He couldn’t arrest the slide. It was the second time he lost an All-Ireland final. And for all that humility and maturity, some things still burn within him.

From there, he had a few years alongside his old Tyrone team mate Adrian Cush managing Donaghmore – where he has made his home for the last two decades – and another spell back with Stewartstown.

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A year almost to the day from Tyrone upsetting Kerry, he was on the line in an Intermediate Championship game, watching things get away from them as Greencastle hit their goals at the right time.

The transformation from there to now in his status in the game is unprecedented.

“I was disappointed that night in Galbally. I thought Stewartstown could have won that match, a couple of turning points, a goal and they just got the bounce on us,” he laments.

“But you don’t know what the future holds. At the back of your head every now and then you think, ‘could you do it?’ And all you ever do, all I have ever been doing through all that I have done in football is challenging myself.”

And now the biggest challenge awaits. Mayo in an All-Ireland final. In among all the legal queries, and everyday considerations fighting for space in his head, Mayo are elbowing in too.

“It’s all-consuming. Subject to some work here, you are in the car, thinking about that. I don’t think Aidan O’Shea will be dropped, but that’s not our watch. That’s James Horans and others.

“At this stage of it, it is all-consuming. It is your every thought between here and there.

“And then you tell yourself, forget about them, and concentrate on here.”

Prior to the 1995 All-Ireland final, he twisted his ankle on a training weekend. He spent the next two weeks driving out to Larne to sit in an oxygen tent to get it right. Little things – Adrian Cush also rolled his ankle – started piling up.

Then Charlie Redmond head-butted Logan. And Paddy Russell didn’t quite send him off. And the disputed final point. Tyrone were beaten. And boy, did it cut them.

In an interview ahead of the 2018 final, Logan told this reporter, “We didn’t front up as well as we knew we could and Dublin weren’t brilliant either. That’s still burning with me.

“You get older and a bit more philosophical about things in life, but in football terms that still stings.”

Asked if he is still not over it, he will only say this; “We will talk about that again. There are a few things in my football career that I am not over. But you are not a million miles away.”

About the author:

Declan Bogue

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